Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Washington DC 2017

The museum's collection started in 1876 with some Chinese kites received as a gift from the Emperor of China. For 100 years, it was never consolidated into a singular location as items were mostly stored and spread between different Smithsonian locations.

The current building is on the site of the old D.C. Armory, and opened on July 1st, 1976, a crowning addition to the Bicentennial festivities of the USA. Here it still stands on the south side of the "Mall", a mile-long row of monuments and museums celebrating all aspects of America.

Arrival

I was staying in Rosslyn across the river, and took the Metro to the Mall. It was a bit of a walk from that station to the museum, but that early in the morning there was practically no one around (it gets very crowded by the midday on weekends).

The Museum

The building holds an incredible collection of pieces spanning the entire era of powered flight and before. The key pieces of aviation technology are here, and all are originals or a real example of.
Wild tales abound of this guy in the late 1800s supposedly having a powered aircraft, but no real evidence The accepted and I believe true beginning of powered flight.  The original first Wright Flyer The power source for old planes
WW1 was a major contributor to the advancement of flight Advances continued and allowed a single person to cross the Atlantic non-stop
WW2 was a time of incredible advancement The pinnacle of WW2 piston technology Culminating in jet fighters with astounding performance
Master of the Pacific Effortless flight at twice the speed of sound Back to the simplest version of powering a flight
Then we move into the space age, so many of the important milestones of this time are represented
Breaking the sound barrier effortlessly and reaching the stratosphere to rain terror on cities Advancements to produce much more power to lift higher and faster Ending in the ability to lift tons and send it to the moon
Launching science into our orbit with increasing complexity Rapid, cheap delivery systems with high degrees of reuse And now sending visitors to other worlds to do our work for us
Or objects to leave our solar system after looking at the outer reaches, to continue to discover who knows what next! Advanced designs

Summary

The Air & Space Museum has the best collection of aviation in the world. Huge open space to wander and observe. You could spend all day in here, and the lines to get in are extremely long. Hit it EARLY, or really late but risk not seeing it all.

This is the number one must-see museum in D.C.

Balanced clock for navigation via stars on ships for a few hundred years $1000 to own a pocket-sized result of the space race


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